The Alistair Overeem who has gone 4-0 with three knockouts over the past two years seems unbeatable. In 56 professional MMA bouts, “The Reem” has evolved into one of the most dangerous heavyweights on the planet.
Now Overeem believes he’s poised to be the next heavyweight champion, but there’s one problem: Cleveland’s Stipe Miocic will die to defend his home turf.
Miocic is currently the top heavyweight in the game and he makes his first title defense in his hometown at UFC 203 on Pay-Per-View.
It will be a dream-come-true for Miocic when he makes the walk in his hometown Saturday night. The entire city of Cleveland has rallied around its champion and Overeem says he’s poised to spoil the party in “The Land.”
“We’re here for one goal and one goal only: We’re going to cement my legacy. We’re going to get that championship belt and it will be history,” Overeem said. “The after party for some people won’t be so nice.”
Overeem has reason to be confident as he’s one of the most experienced fighters competing in MMA today. Overeem has held titles in multiple organizations and he’s looking to add to his collection by winning the greatest of them all.
Miocic has been very respectful of Overeem in the lead-up to their fight, giving the No. 1 contender the rightful due he’s earned over the course of his legendary career.
“Overeem brings a lot of challenges. First of all he’s a veteran and he’s fought the best in the world,” Miocic said. “He fought in boxing, K-1, in Pride and he’s a big, strong guy. He’s good on the ground too and like he said he thinks he’s a better overall fighter than me – but we’ll see what happens on Saturday.”
Overeem is supremely confident but isn’t underestimating Miocic, a man he called a dangerous fighter who is champion for a reason.
“I definitely expect him to come with his full arsenal. He has his striking and his wrestling base, and he’s a very dominant fighter,” Overeem said. “He’s got power but everybody’s got power. So we have to be ready for everything – for his strikes, his counter strikes and his wrestling.”
When the two meet the fight itself is bound to be explosive. Miocic has knockout power in both hands and Overeem is one of the most deadly pound-for-pound strikers in the history of combat sports.
Miocic will likely try to utilize his wrestling if things don’t go his way on the feet, but Overeem has been training in Albuquerque for the past few years at the famed Jackson/Winklejohn gym with some of the best MMA wrestlers in the sport.
One of them will live his fairy tale on Saturday night. Either Overeem will have his career-defining championship win or Miocic will defend his belt in front of his city and keep the title in Cleveland.
“We’ve brought some great guys in, we’ve looked over some film and we have a great strategic plan like we always do. I’m going to go out there and do my job,” Miocic said. “I’ve trained super hard and I’ve trained too hard to give this up.
“I’m going to win and you’ll find out (how) when I get my hand raised.”
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC